Your organisation needs a vaccine too
So 2020, huh? It’s been… interesting.
If you’re a leader in the public or private sector, chances are you’ve been through an unprecedented amount of change as the world, the global economy and governments everywhere have fought hard to adapt to the impact of Covid-19.
And right now the only thing you want is for things to go back to the way they were. An end to all this convulsive change. A break from upheaval.
Here’s a hard truth: Going back won’t work. Responding to the immediate crisis of Covid-19 has been about stabilising the situation and doing what had to be done in the moment. But longer term prosperity will require us to make structural changes that leave us better prepared for whatever comes next.
That means now is the ideal time for agile, future-focused transformation.
Where are we now?
In response to the emerging pandemic public sector leaders had to make some big changes, and quickly. Things that had long seemed impossible became suddenly possible. Many of the old roadblocks were smashed through.
It’s likely that your organisation has been transformed whether you wanted it or not. But it’s also likely that the job is only half-finished. Now it’s time to ensure you are well positioned for a fast-moving future, not looking to retreat to the comfortable recent past.
Here's a quick diagnostic test. Think about the changes you’ve undergone. Have these been reactive temporary adjustments? Or something more permanent and sustainable? Have they been driven by responding to external events? Or have they looked ahead at what the future operating environment is likely to be?
These are critical questions right now. As we emerge into the new normal we can’t simply return to old ways of working. The challenge for leaders is not just to stay afloat… it’s to inoculate your organisations, workflow and systems so that all are ready to take on the next phase and win.
The challenges of now
The moment we find ourselves in is one that few of us could have predicted. It’s an unstable and unpredictable time where leaders are called upon to design and implement interventions without the usual long runway.
New programs and services must be made and delivered quickly. But if these outputs are miscalibrated or poorly designed the harm can be substantial (and writ large across the daily headlines).
Across areas from social services to hospitals, mental health, border security and many more the old roadblocks have been removed and a new urgency presides.
Agile business transformation is a methodology that is perfectly suited to the challenges of this moment. It is a process that brings the right voices together, imagines new possibilities and desired future states, and then sets about bridging the gap between current capabilities and future potentialities..
What will this world look like? We can’t definitively tell you. But we can invite you to join us in tackling this challenge - the most important one most organisations are currently facing.
Here’s the good news: Whether your transformation succeeds or fails has little to do with how much you spend, how long you take or how hard you work. So what does drive success? There are some core characteristics of the current moment that can guide the way leaders might position themselves and their organisations for what’s to come.
As societies and as organisations the impact of Covid-19 has accelerated a shift towards digital that has long been underway. While we all hope that life may soon return to either normal or ‘Covid-normal’ we don’t believe the way we work, organise around work and communicate with each other will ever fully return to the way it once was. There are pros and cons to this: less travel means less money and less environmental impact. Working from home contributes greatly to work/life balance and could help redress gender and other imbalances that act as limiters on what’s possible. But we need to make sure our organisations are set up optimally to work in this way. And that requires intentionality and exploration. It requires planned transformation.
Making change with the right voices has long been at the core of co-design, an idea that has become widespread across government and other areas where changemaking happens. Covid-19 has proven conclusively that responding to the biggest challenges requires both individual and collective action. Top-down initiatives cannot be successful without on-the-ground buy in. Solutions that do not employ the best available technical and scientific viewpoints are unlikely to succeed. Data is critical for understanding what is happening in a system, but so are the stories of those with lived experience of the system. Organisations that can tap into these data sources and balance these voices and turn them into productive conversations are the ones that will flourish.
You don’t just need to have the right people in the room you also need a new and different kind of ongoing connection to the broader community. Beyond 2020, social licence will not be a one-time deal - assumed at the announcement of a project unless otherwise indicated by a section of the community. Instead it will be a rolling experience. During Covid we have seen governments called upon to respond rapidly to emerging challenges with very high stakes. Citizens and other stakeholders rightly expect action to be decisive, timely and effective. But if leaders overstep their remit or fail to secure ongoing social licence the backlash can be immediate and damaging. All of that places extreme pressure on decision-making and change-making capabilities that were created to serve a less convulsive, more stable time.
We’ve seen that the world can shift quickly and that, when it does, the flow-on effects can be extreme. This lack of predictability and heightened instability is likely to be a feature of future operating environments. Those who flourish within such environments will be the ones who can adapt, who respond to shifting events and conditions in a way that prizes flexibility. They will also be the ones who have a clear windscreen, able to see what lies ahead and swerve neatly around suddenly-appearing obstacles. Does your organisation have this capability? It is possible. It can be done.
Get in touch for a health check
Not sure where to get started? At ThinkPlace we understand that people drive the true transformation, getting the strategy right and implementing it throughout the organisation is key for business transformation. Get in touch with us to see how we can help support you to lead your organisation through these difficult times.